The weekly senior meals program at Mount Hood Town Hall had a special guest Jan. 23: a guest chef.
Joe Silliman brought platters of roast beef, potatoes and gravy, broccolini, and salad from his Cooper Spur Inn, and about 60 people lined up for a bountiful hot meal.
Silliman also brought two kinds of chocolate cake and a lemon cake.
“This is a big help to us,” said Sarah Wilson. “We’ve had a lot of budget cuts over the past year or two, and Joe just took it on today.”
Wilson, who is the regular cook as part of her coordination of the weekly meal with Roger and Dottie Nelson of Parkdale, has also worked with Silliman to arrange donated meals by Cooper Spur Inn to the Parkdale Elementary PTO. That started with a community Christmas dinner in December 2012, one that was going to be repeated last month but was interrupted by bad weather.
In 2013, Silliman and his staff also donated to PTO the proceeds from four dinners at the restaurant.
“There were no (PTO) meals planned this year, but we thought of doing this in an effort to stay in the loop; to stay involved in the community,” Silliman said.
“The budget for senior meals was cut, so it was a no-brainer for us that we could donate some food and help take the workload off the ladies and do something ourselves,” Silliman said. He cooked the food at the restaurant and transported it to Town Hall, where the Nelsons, Wilson and others dished up for a long line of seniors and other guests.
“We’re excited because they have asked us to feed the (school) carnival on March 14,” Silliman said, adding that Cooper Spur will also cater the annual “Enchanted Evening” this year honoring the 100th anniversary of Mount Hood Town Hall. (The date has yet to be determined.) For the past few years the event has been a well-received collection of soups by local chefs, private and professional.
“Since it’s the centennial they asked us to make it a special occasion, and make a full meal of it,” Silliman said. He added that doing community meals “offers brand recognition for us and gets people talking about Cooper Spur.”
Silliman said, “My kid is 4 years old, he’s right upstairs at New Visions (School). The plight of the PTO and the upper valley community is personal to me. And it’s fun.”
The weekly senior meal is open to anyone, and costs $5, or $4 for those over 60. Some people donate more, if they can, and some people know they can get a meal even if they don’t have the full price.
The association does this on a budget of $100 a week, augmented by funds from Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, according to Wilson.
“It’s a fine line. We have 50 people-plus each week, and it has to be a four-course meal.
“This is a huge help,” Wilson said. “He had talked with us last year (2012) about doing the Christmas dinner and this year, it was about ‘How do we get more food to more people?’ We can reach a lot of people; we already have at least this many people coming.” (The meal draws between 25-65 people each week. It is located in the basement but is handicapped-accessible.)
Wilson added, “A lot of seniors have not been able to come lately because they feel bad they can’t donate, so this is a huge help.”
The event was also a birthday celebration for Marcellino Chocoteco, who turned 58.
After everyone was served, PTO members Julie Stuben and Allison Betzing helped Heidi Hansberger and Angie Kennedy, who serve at senior meals each week, prepare meals to go, to be delivered to the homes of another eight people.